The last couple of weeks I’ve gone to 7:30 a.m. Sunday Mass at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood. I was confirmed and made my first Communion there back in 1986 and the whole complex will always retain a special place in my heart.
Afterwards I walk over to the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, a block-square cornucopia of produce, flowers, music, and food booths.
Mass, followed by food, is a natural and beautiful sequence. Christ is always about the food, the broken bread. A couple of weeks ago, we read the story of Jairus’s daughter and the healing of the hemorrhaging woman. [Mark 5:21-43]
21 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24 And he went with him.
And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing[a] what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus[b] saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Mulling the story over in the following days, I was struck that, after bringing the 12-year-old girl back to life, Christ, the Great Physician, basically says to her: Get up and eat. Not get up and pray. Not get up and thank me. Not get up and take a bunch of meds. Not lie down for a week. Arise and eat. The people who love you will make you something to eat.
Christ is always about the shared meal, the flow of giving and receiving, the movement from the isolation of sickness to the community of “health,” which is not necessarily to say physical health, but the health of faith, of love.
What’s best physically is what gives us most joy spiritually and emotionally.At the end of our lives, are we going to say, I wish I’d worked more, I wish I’d been more successful, more disciplined, holier; I wish I’d amassed more stuff? No. We’re gonna say–or I am–I wish I’d sat down more often with my friends and had something to eat.